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Monday, 29 November 2004
Page: 1

To the Honourable Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives assembled in the Parliament:

This petition of certain citizens, being electors of the Division of Ballarat and members and associates of the Ballarat, Victoria, branch of the Royal Australian Air Force Association:

Draws to the attention of the House that as proven loyal members of the Commonwealth Military Forces during the conflict known as World War Two and subsequently in such other emergency situations as the Commonwealth has been involved we, like our predecessors, have at all times been prepared to serve wherever we were placed by the military and political authorities. Among us we include some who were incarcerated by the enemy through no fault of their own. Indeed a large number were surrendered by their superiors, in theatres such as Singapore, Crete and Greece.

The people of Australia can conclude only from the attitude and actions of the Australian Government at the time and subsequently that those who were taken as prisoners of war are regarded as the `forgotten ones', even though many of them suffered far greater privations for a longer period than many who continued to serve in active combat roles. That the Commonwealth Government has been reluctant to acknowledge the role these servicemen and women have played is all too evident. No register was kept at the time of those so incarcerated and indeed even today there remain many who are unidentified. Whilst it is right and proper that those who died in the service of their country should be commemorated, we are convinced that similar recognition should be afforded to those who went through a living hell as prisoners of war.

To this end a Prisoners of War Memorial has now been erected in Ballarat, funded largely by public subscription, on which are permanently recorded the names of prisoners of war from throughout Australia who served their country in all wars from the formation of the Commonwealth up to the present. Thus the people of Australia have seen fit to recognise the role these men women played in wartime, even though successive Governments appear to have been embarrassed by their existence.

Whilst recognising that the Commonwealth Government has made a modest contribution to this Memorial the amount palls into insignificance when compared with how much has been spent on other memorials both in Australia and overseas.

Your petitioners, the undersigned, therefore ask that the House demonstrate its recognition of the role these servicemen and servicewomen played in Australia's history by Gazetting the Prisoners of War Memorial as a Federal shrine and by allocating a further sum of $290,000.00 to enable its completion to a fitting standard in its current setting at the heart of Australia's proud tradition of selfless service and democracy.

by Ms King (from 67 citizens)